Resuscitation of Thach Khe iron mine might cause a serious environmental disaster

Thu Phuong - Jul 31, 2017 | 06:39 AM GMT+7

TheLEADERIf Thach Khe iron mine is resuscitated, in case of incident, the environmental disasters will be much more serious than Formosa incident.

Resuscitation of Thach Khe iron mine might cause a serious environmental disaster
Low fresh water level in a lake due to drainage of mining pit. Photo:

This statement is delivered by Dr. Do Huu Hao, former Vice Minister of Industry and Trade at the conference "Appraisal on project for exploiting and processing iron ore at Thach Khe iron mine, in Ha Tinh province"

Thus, the Government agencies, scientists and investors must study and calculate carefully before deciding to restart this project because its impacts on environment are extremely serious and incalculable.

The risk of marine environmental disaster

When Thach Khe iron mine is put into operation, tailings will be discharged on the coast forming the biggest coastal landfill in Vietnam with the maximum volume of 69,262m3 per day.

Based on the mine design, Thach Khe Iron Joint Stock Company (TIC) will embank the girdle shaped dike to stabilize the landfill. However, a large investment capital amount is required to improve and resolve the environmental impacts arising from discharging tailings such as erosion in the northern and southern coasts of the landfill, degradation of marine environment, change in natural conditions of the vast areas, etc..

In addition, wastewater produced from mining activities contains a lot of toxic substances to the environment. Therefore, the wastewater treatment is vital matter if Thach Khe iron mine is exploited.

The risk of salinity intrusion and groundwater degradation in the area.

"The Thach Khe iron mine area is characterized by sandy soils and sand dunes, which contain fresh groundwater, in a dynamic equilibrium relation with the surrounding salt water. In fact, after TIC excavated mining pit, the underground water level has been lowered because water into mining pit is pumped out into the sea. It is predicted that if the mining pit is excavated hundreds of meter deeper and four – five times wider and drained, salt water from the East Sea and Ha Vang River will penetrate and gradually replace the fresh water that is in the sand dunes,” said Prof., D.Sc Dang Trung Thuan, Chairman of Vietnam Association for Geochemistry.

Desertification of Thach Ha coastal area

"In the area of Thach Khe iron mine, when the mining pit is drained, the groundwater level in the dunes is lowered, seawater penetrates and gradually replaces the freshwater in the sand dunes, leading to the salinity intrusion of land. As a result, the natural vegetation such as rhodomyrtus tomentosa, melastomataceae, especially the melaleuca cajuputi powell, will gradually wither. Agricultural crops will not develop because the soil is drought and saline.

The existing fragile ecosystem in the dunes which plays an important role against sand dust and flows, will disappear and the coastal dunes of Thach Ha will become a real desert.” Thuan added.